Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Bob Bayford said:
“We have received a significant number of complaints and media attention regarding the hedge maintenance work carried out at the Winter Gardens on Tuesday 4 June.
Although Kent Police have confirmed they found no evidence of any disturbance or damage to nesting birds and therefore concluded that no offences have been committed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, we are keen to improve the processes followed in relation to this work in the future and are:
- Seeking information from other Councils to understand what processes they have in place and if any examples of better practice exist.
- Recruiting an arboricultural officer as soon as possible, even though this isn’t a requirement.
- Developing an improved process, including how to deal with complaints about tree/hedge works.
- Carrying out ecological risk assessments for a variety of parks and open spaces works, following the improved process and including the use of new technology. We have purchased, as a trial at this stage, an infrared imaging wildlife camera. This will be used alongside traditional methods of ecological monitoring as part of the prescribed process that must be followed before works are carried out. Check sheets will be included as part of the ecological risk assessment to ensure compliance is documented. Recommendations are being sought from the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and other local authorities to help shape this.
- Drafting new parks and open spaces service standards – to be approved and published on the Council’s website so the public know what to expect from us and what we expect from them.
- Conducting a review into our arrangements with contractors, including exploring a new permit to work process for any contractor carrying out work on our behalf.
- Training staff, supervisors and service manager on new processes, how to handle complaints and how to prioritise work based on process, legislation and to ensure balance with other relevant sensitivities.